Humanitarian design is all the rage. A wave of Western designers has swept into countries such as India, Rwanda, and Brazil with ideas for clean water, better schools, and economic opportunities. But as Maarten Baas shows with his monumental Empty Chair -- in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo -- the most powerful statements can also be symbolic.
We're used to seeing architectural renderings resembling comic-book-fueled fantasies of the future. But we've yet to come across a building modeled on an arcade game -- until now: "Space Invader," NL Architects? winning plan for a residential development in Gapyong, outside of Seoul, takes its shape from the oversize pixels of the beloved classic videogame.
We always thought of race-car driving as the kind of sport that didn't place much of a premium on athleticism -- like baseball, where you can be fat and slow and still make a bunch of All-Star teams. Boy were we wrong. As this superb new ad for Audi makes clear, driving requires incredible physical prowess: the ability to slam a brake pedal with 80 kilos of force, raise your heart rate to 140 bpm (the equivalent of a light jog) for the duration of a race, and hold your breath when taking a corner to stop g-forces from crushing your lungs against your ribcage. That's right. Crushed.
Scan the packaging in your supermarket's beer aisle, and you might get the impression that the beer industry is marketing to two completely different species. In one camp, you've got the craft beer drinker, who likes oil paintings of Queen Anne and will dissertate on the nature of hops at the drop of a mildly ironic porkpie hat. In the other, you've got the mass-market beer drinker, who like his beer wet.
I live mere blocks from a world-class park in Brooklyn, but when I take my soon-to-be-born kid there someday, what am I going to say when he/she says, "What's that tree, Daddy? And that one? And that one?" Luckily there's an app for that: Leafsnap, a collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, the Smithsonian Institution, and FindingSpecies.org that repurposes facial-recognition algorithms to identify local flora instead.
Sometimes the best design is the design that's barely there. In Madrid, architects Churtichaga + Quadra + Salcedo Arquitectos (CH+QS) took an abandoned garage in the heart of the city and transformed it into a timeshare office that resembles, well, an abandoned garage in the heart of the city.